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All Blog Posts (157)

Venus Transit

I watched the Venus transit from this afternoon to this evening along with Richard and Scott who come over to join me.
I started to setup at about 2:00 and was ready to go by the time Venus started to crest the limb of the Sun. It was cool watching it begin to chip away at the Sun. Just as it started to do that, the clouds came in and hid the Sun. When they cleared, Venus was about 3/4 of the way past the limb and I was looking forward to watching the full disk come…

Added by Neil Heacock on June 5, 2012 at 9:30am — No Comments

"PerfectStar" Focus Controller

Astro photographers all know that perfect focusing is both essential and difficult. A motorized focuser is a big help because it allows finer control while avoiding the vibrations typically induced by turning a focus knob by hand. However, simple DC motor systems cannot provide enough precision and absolute positioning systems using stepper or servo motors are usually very…


Added by Greg Marshall on May 28, 2012 at 11:16am — No Comments

Still Here

Hi Trevor,

Yep, still around. Got an 11" celestron and cgem mount to go with the EQ-G and 70 and 127 mm scopes. Also a guider from kw telescopes in Kitchener-Waterloo that they make themselves using a small finder scope and qhy5 cmos camera. Love it. Spending about 4-5 hours per subject, ending with 2-3 working 'finals' then layering in photoshop elements. Seems to make a huge improvement in my final images


Added by David Klooz on May 26, 2012 at 4:20am — 2 Comments

I made it into scientific American!!!

Not too big a deal, but I'm pretty stoked. Irony is, I share a step mother with David Goldstein but I've only met him once or twice. funny.

Added by Charles Dunlop on May 16, 2012 at 10:44am — 2 Comments


Added by Charles Dunlop on May 16, 2012 at 10:43am — No Comments

First Planetary Imaging Session

I can't hardly believe we are getting back to back nights. It's been less then a year, but it seems like forever since I've been able to enjoy astronomy multiple nights in a row all night long without fog or clouds or haze or something ruining the pleasure of the evening.

In preparation for the star party this weekend, tonight I didn't break out the imaging gear which I've been testing for the past few nights, just the Dob (16" Lightbridge). Drinking in great views of…

Added by Neil Heacock on May 13, 2012 at 3:42am — 2 Comments

The Skies Are Back!

After a solid 8 months of horrible skies (and an occasional decent sky of which I was working or some such thing) I finally got out to test my gear changes and I'm happy to say that I'm very pleased with the results.

The Atlas w/Vixen ED03s and ZenithStar 66 Guider

The Atlas was trouble from the beginning. I didn't expect that. I had (and still have to a degree) issues with the altitude adjustment. It's tight, it slips, the tongue inside is…


Added by Neil Heacock on May 12, 2012 at 9:00pm — No Comments

ELF Panel Tests

As promised, here are the results of testing my ELF panel, an electroluminescent panel designed specifically for making "lens cap" type flats. That is, by placing the panel directly in front of the telescope. This technique does not provide the highest possible accuracy, but when done properly it works quite well and has the distinct advantage that you can do it in the middle of a shooting session without bothering anyone. ELF is designed to fit snugly around the end of your scope so that…


Added by Greg Marshall on April 26, 2012 at 11:51am — 1 Comment


I was out for six months with nonstop fog, and then Trevor got it with bad weather for like 5 months, and now, just when my new observatory, solid pier, paramount, off axis guiding with rotator... and now, fog rolls in three days now. It's thick fog that never leaves. It's going to rain on thursday that'll clear it out, but it'll just build back up again.

This is caused primarily by La Nina, or colder than normal ocean temperatures. They say La Nina lasts two years on average, this…


Added by Charles Dunlop on April 22, 2012 at 8:41am — 2 Comments

Photo Sharing and Blog - What's the best option?

So I'm thinking of starting my own website to upload photos and post a thought or two and looking out there in the virtual world there appears to be plenty of options.

What I think is important:

Right Click protection, Watermarks.

Being able to have my own style and Logo.

Image size is not restricted or "resized" on upload.

Multiple Image file types (png, tiff, FITS, RAW if possible)

Large amount of storage.

Private folders as well as public. Password…


Added by Russ Ruggles on April 19, 2012 at 2:31pm — No Comments

New Astronomy Products from Wa'chur'ed Observatory

Since I retired from a career in designing electronic products (mostly related to imaging), I've often had to rely on the skills learned over the years (and learn some new ones) to solve problems that came up in astronomy. Thinking that my friends in astronomy and astrophotography might benefit from the solutions I developed (and having little else to do), I decided to make some of these solutions available as real products. My intent is not to make a big business from this and it's not…


Added by Greg Marshall on April 5, 2012 at 5:52pm — 1 Comment

arduino focuser controller

I saw the arduino boards sitting on the shelves at Radioshack and I figured I would try to make a focuser controller for the motor focuser I bought a few weeks back. This is mainly due to that the 100ft wires were too flimsy to last and secondly that I can then precisely control the focus, even without a focuser program.

The core of the focuser is an arduino…


Added by Michael Hester on April 1, 2012 at 10:00am — 5 Comments

New deck and observatory install

Got the deck taken out, and my buddy and his small crew put in an 18 inch round pier with a T base 5 feet deep. The dirt in my hill is super strong and solid, and I'm guessing that pier base isn't moving at all if much at all. Just levelled the J bolts (except he used screws with flat square 3 inch plates on the end. It'll be solid. So, that part is done. Monday they install the actual deck, should be done my tuesday. Wed. my observatory shows up. Can't wait.

Added by Charles Dunlop on March 30, 2012 at 3:49pm — 100 Comments

Last light

Tonight will be my last night shooting with my observatory. Goodbye, or rather good riddance. Since I've had a dome my productivity per night has gone down a lot, driving me nuts. Firstly, had a six month fog bank so no telescoping, then when I got back on my CGE pro was acting funny and not tracking in DEC. That drove me nuts for months. Things are better now, Paramount ME is tracking like a champ, and thus everything is working again.

So here's what the new observatory will…


Added by Charles Dunlop on March 27, 2012 at 10:11am — 12 Comments

New setup

Just took delivery of the new camera setup:

I'll be attaching this rig to my existing ATFF field flattener. The spacing works out perfectly (~56mm). Should slide into my existing MoonLite focusers nicely. Now I just need the Paramount MX and Rob Miller tripod to show up!

Added by Jeff McFarlin on March 26, 2012 at 6:22pm — 2 Comments

Urinal, a new observatory, and a more stable pier

Today my automated technical innovations PD10 shipped, be here next week. From now until then mostly cloudy nights, so I'll take the setup down when convenient in next two days, and rip out my deck, and put in a better more stable pier. Will drill a new hole, square it, cement it up and attach an appropriate bisque manufactured pier. Pretty stoked to move on this.

Here is my new urinal, about 20 feet from my observatory. :) Urinals are nice to be sure, and I went roman emporer style…


Added by Charles Dunlop on March 26, 2012 at 6:00pm — No Comments


What you guys think of this? I could scoop it up right now, with a rotator and be super ready to roll and guide off axis. Thoguhts?

Added by Charles Dunlop on March 19, 2012 at 12:09pm — 41 Comments


i'm engaged!!!! First time for me. Her little sister and mine are best friends, she grew up about five blocks from me but I never met her. She graduated from Berkeley and lived in san Fransisco for six years after and just returned to Laguna, and we met and boom, never been more sure of anything in my life.…


Added by Charles Dunlop on March 7, 2012 at 8:23pm — 13 Comments

Home made cables

I recently purchased a JMI motorized crayford focuser and a C5 to shoot with but noticed an interesting thing about the focuser's connection cable and my guide scope cable. They were 6 pin RJ11 patch cables. In a desire to create an extension cable for the focuser I got RJ11 crimping tools and made a new cable out of Cat5 cable. Turns out that the focuser cable could be 100 ft long and still work.

Then I noticed that my Celestron hand controller had the same 6 pin RJ11 port. I thus…


Added by Michael Hester on March 6, 2012 at 4:33pm — 1 Comment

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